I am originally from Nebraska. I spent eighteen years growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and Lake Okoboji, Iowa before I moved to Malibu to start school at Pepperdine University. My parents, Steve and Brenda Reeder, and my sister, also moved out to California the year I started college. My parents left the proximity of 40+ years of family, friends, and business to move to a place by the sea. It was a bold move and tremendously bittersweet. Despite the move, they stay in touch and return to visit every year for a splash of winter weather or a humid, hot summer. They sought new experiences, a new chapter, new business, and a lifestyle that would allow them to keep their windows open all year round. I admire my parents for that.
Two friendships sustained since their college years at the University of Nebraska remained especially strong between my dad, Brad Brown, and Budge Porter. Brad is a builder who innovates and thinks outside the box, and has a huge place in his heart for others. Budge is a man with tremendous courage who after a tragic accident in football, left him a quadriplegic. And my dad, is one of those rare people that no matter how busy he is, would go out of his way and do anything to help you out – even if that meant the shirt off his back. Years ago, Budge did everything he could to recover from his terrible accident. Through intensive physical therapy and sheer determination he gained limited muscle movement back in his arms. However, he would forever be in a wheelchair.
In a moment with fate, Budge fell in love with a beautiful woman named Diane from California and maintained a five year long distance relationship before they finally tied the knot. Miracle after miracle kept the Budge Porter family going. Against all odds, and by the grace of God, they had three children – but not without many tries, hardship, and pain. Because of Budge’s exorbitant medical costs to help him maintain his body and the pain-staking decision to have to leave work because of his disability, Budge had a family and a wife who he, personally, could no longer sustain. Can you imagine, for a man who was once incredibly strong, capable, and smart to have to endure this and not out of his own choice?
The Porter family was forced into bankruptcy and the family needed help. Brad Brown, the designer and innovator, was particularly sensitive to Budge and it left him brainstorming of what could be done to help Budge live a decent life, and especially so he could maintain his strength with special exercise equipment, not to have to rely on his family to move throughout the home, and the sweetest of which, to put his children to sleep in bedrooms that were not on a second story he could not get to.
I used to live on Corby Street in West Omaha. My dad had invested years into acquiring most of the land behind our home to eventually be developed for more homes overlooking the Eagle Run Golf Course. It was a good thing because one of those sparkling plots of land would go to Budge and his family. Nearly three years in the making and the financial and physical support of hundreds of family, friends, and strangers – builders, suppliers, contractors, designers, and specialists – an extremely detailed, considerate, “Barrier-free and entirely wheelchair-accessible” home was constructed and completed. As of yesterday, Thursday, October 25, hundreds of people that helped support Budge lined the driveway of his new home on Corby Street in Omaha, Nebraska. Their car pulled up and Diane, Budge’s wife, wheeled him out to cheers and tears. Brad Brown took Budge’s wheelchair after he made it halfway up the drive and handed him the keys to a home that would change his life, and his family, forever.
What we can learn from Budge Porter is to carry on against all odds. How admirable and remarkable it is to see a man who hardly ever complains with a disability that is so incredibly limiting. We can all take a lesson, and to be grateful, for the movement we do have. Also, we can remember people like Brad Brown, Sam Marchese (Sam jumped on board early on to finance the home), my dad, and countless others who invested their time, love, and prayers to build such a remarkable home for a deserving and honorable family.
I remember almost exactly in the middle of where the house sits now was where my dad had planted a lovely peach tree for Anna and I that bore us the most incredible, round, and juicy fruit. The funny thing was, we were never able to get any other fruit from other trees we had planted in the vicinity. It goes to show, the heart of their new home, was and is and will be a place where miracles happen. I am very happy to share this story with you all, especially my California and International Readers, who should know of this story where the action of people helping other people is still alive and well. It is a lesson then, wherever we are, to reach out to our neighbours and to love them, above all else.
Has someone done something special for you? Share with me in a brief comment below.
Emily Rose Reeder
© by Emily Rose Reeder, est. 2012. All Rights Reserved